Home secretary announces that she will consider tough control on foreign students and workers as a way of controlling migration, reports David Thomson from the Conservative conference in Birmingham
THE home secretary has announced plans to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” during an address to the Conservative Party conference.
Amber Rudd told delegates in Birmingham that she will focus on tightening controls on foreign students and workers as a way to “control migration”.
These would include examining whether the government should tighten recruitment tests, and she said students on “low-quality courses” will face tougher tests.
Rudd told conference that the number of people coming into the UK and leaving is still too big. Meanwhile, Labour MP Andy Burnham criticised Rudd for having “depressingly little to say” about the refugee crisis.
Rudd said: “I believe immigration has brought many benefits to the nation. It has enhanced our economy, our society and our culture.
“Because it’s only by reducing the numbers back down to sustainable levels that we can change the tide of public opinion.” Amber Rudd
“This is why I want to reduce net migration while continuing to ensure we attract the brightest and the best.
“Because it’s only by reducing the numbers back down to sustainable levels that we can change the tide of public opinion.
“So once again immigration is something we can all welcome.”
According to Rudd, leaving the EU is part of the strategy, but the Hastings and Rye MP added: “We have to look at all sources of immigration if we mean business.”
“So I want us to look again at whether our immigration system provides the right incentives for businesses to invest in British workers.” Amber Rudd
Former prime minister David Cameron failed in his commitment to bring migration in 2015 to under 100,000 a year.
But most recently, net migration has exceeded more than 300,000.
Rudd announced that her government will set up a new £140m Controlling Migration Fund to help support local authorities to deal with pressure from public services as a result of high migration.
Launching the tougher test on foreign students and workers, Rudd said that recruitment has “become a tick box exercise, allowing some firms to get away with not training local people”.
“We’re consulting because we want to work with businesses and universities to get this next stage of our reforms right.” Amber Rudd
Rudd added: “It’s not fair on companies doing the right thing.
“So I want us to look again at whether our immigration system provides the right incentives for businesses to invest in British workers.”
Rudd said she was committed to attracting the best students to “our world leading institutions”, but as part of the consultation, the government will ask what more it can do to support those universities who “stick to the rules”, but “attract the best talent”.
Rudd said: “This isn’t about pulling up the drawbridge.
“It’s about making sure students that come here, come to study.
“Reducing net migration back down to sustainable levels will not be easy. But I am committed to delivering it on behalf of the British people.” Amber Rudd
“We’re consulting because we want to work with businesses and universities to get this next stage of our reforms right.”
Ruud added: “But I also come here today with a warning to those that simply oppose any steps to reduce net migration: this government will not waver in its commitment to put the interests of the British people first.
“Reducing net migration back down to sustainable levels will not be easy. But I am committed to delivering it on behalf of the British people.”
In response to the home secretary’s speech, Shadow home secretary, Andy Burnham MP said: “"It sounded like the prime minister had a heavy hand in drafting the home secretary's speech.
“[Amber Rudd] had depressingly little to say about the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War and failed to repeat the commitment to taking a share of adult refugees.” Andy Burnham MP
“We've heard these conference promises on net migration and child migrants before and they haven't come to anything – people will take them with a pinch of salt.
“On Theresa May's watch, net migration reached record levels.
“Amber Rudd is right to introduce a scheme to help communities address the pressures of migration, as Jeremy Corbyn called for last week.
“But she had depressingly little to say about the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War and failed to repeat the commitment to taking a share of adult refugees.”
Picture courtesy of Department of Energy and Climate Change
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